In just a few months’ time, swifts will be making their epic 6,000 mile journey here from Africa to bring up their chicks.
So the RSPB is appealing to the public to help provide as many new homes for them as possible. Just 1,000 additional new nestboxes could make a difference.
Swifts are incredible birds, spending most of their lives on the wing and only landing when it’s time to nest. After flying its nest for the first time, a young swift may spend two or three years in the air, eating, drinking, sleeping, bathing and even mating! The swifts that nest in the UK arrive here in late April - May and may spend just 3 months with us; soaring and swooping over rooftops catching insects to eat.
But they’re in serious trouble here, with numbers down to less than half of what they were just twenty years ago. Modern buildings lack the nooks and crannies they need, and swifts are struggling to find homes.
Fortunately there are ways to help these birds. There are special swift nestboxes available, and if you’re having a building constructed or renovated, there’s also the option of the ‘swift brick’. This replaces a standard house brick and can easily be installed by a builder. Swift boxes and swift bricks can work especially well when put up in groups, as these birds like to be near other swifts.
Having swifts as neighbours is enjoyed by many homeowners. Research by University of Gloucestershire Masters student Sarah Roberts in 2018 showed that people welcome the birds living on the outside of their homes. When asked whether they thought built-in boxes for bats or for birds like swifts were a good idea, 61% were positive and 36% unconcerned about having them in their own homes.
Local councils and developers also have the power to make an enormous difference. Some housebuilders are already integrating swift homes into new buildings. For example Barratt Developments Plc have added 200 on their Kingsbrook estate in Aylesbury and have plans to install many more around the country. The Duchy of Cornwall have been putting built in swift homes into properties from Kent to Cornwall.
RSPB swift box
Last Updated: Wednesday 13 February 2019